Arrow Deconstruction: Thea Queen/Merlyn

By: Kat “Comic Uno”

It’s no secret that my favorite TV show on right now is Arrow. This hiatus is killing me and I thought it would be fun to talk about my favorite character on the show, Thea. I will be discussing her development, training, and where I would like to see the character go in the next half of season 3.

I remember being very excited when The CW announced Arrow back in 2012. I’ve been a huge Green Arrow fan since the character’s first appearance on Smallville in 2006. I followed all of the news leading up to the Arrow pilot. One of the first things we learned about for the show was that Oliver was going to have a sister. The description for her character sounded very similar to the comic book character Mia Dearden, especially with the reference of her nickname being Speedy. I am a huge Mia Dearden fan so I had a lot of hope for Thea’s character even before the pilot aired.

The first episode aired on October 10th 2012 and there were already a plethora of references showing that Thea was destined to be more than Oliver’s little sister. Oliver frequently called her Speedy and the set designer put archery trophies in Thea’s room.

Season 1 continued and sadly the writer’s didn’t know what to do with Thea but granted the writers were still trying to find their footing for all of their characters. Thea had to be pushed to the sidelines. For the first couple of episodes of the season Thea wanted Oliver to open up, and this was truly impossible for Oliver. Oliver had done so many bad things while he was gone and he didn’t want his sister to know about that life. He wanted her to remember who Oliver Queen use to be, but Thea still tried to poke into Oliver’s business.

In the fifth episode of Season 1 “Damaged” Thea became suspicious of Oliver and thought he was the Arrow. Oliver was able to convince Thea that the idea was ridiculous. This was the first of many lies told to Thea throughout the show. As Oliver continues to fight crime as the Arrow he starts to push his sister away. Thea turns to drugs because this made her feel closer to Oliver. She was starting to become who Oliver use to be before the island. This storyline was needed for Thea’s journey, but at this point in the show the audience was starting to dislike Thea.

Halfway through the season Thea’s story strays away from drug use and goes in a positive direction when she meets Roy Harper. Roy brought out Thea’s best qualities. This is when Thea’s character really started to shine and finally become likable. Thea found someone to lean on, which throughout the first half of the show she was really missing. Oliver pushed her away to become the Arrow and Moria had her own problems with Merlyn. Thea had a lot of money, but she would always be a rich girl alone in a big mansion. This is the main reason she turned to drugs in the first place.

Thea and Roy’s relationship grows. They learn about their different worlds. A big progression to Roy’s story and ultimately Thea’s story is when Roy is kidnapped and saved by the Arrow. Roy wants to learn more about the Arrow and wants to become a hero himself. Thea doesn’t push him away, but wants to help him. This was one of my favorite qualities about Thea. She always wanted to try to help the people she loved, but in the end was always pushed away.

Roy continues his search for the Arrow and this brings him into danger during the undertaking. Chaos ensues in the Glades as Roy encounters a group of muggers. He is outnumbered until Thea comes to save the day. Roy and Thea leave the Glades safely. This is my favorite Thea scene from season 1 because Roy is always the one to protect Thea, but this time Thea does the saving with her great aim. Just another reference that she has a destiny to become an archer on the show.

Season 2 premieres with a new and even more improved Thea. She is now the owner of Verdant and it seems that she finally has her life together. But her relationship with her mother had been fractured after Moira was arrested for being a co-conspirator for the Undertaking. Thea doesn’t want to visit her mother because she blames her for everything that went wrong with the Glades. It took time but Thea did forgive Moira for being involved with the Undertaking. She realized that Moira was only trying to protect her family. Thea starts to grow a bond with her mother that she never had, but there will be events that quickly break this bond.

As Thea is still dealing with her mother’s trial, Roy continues his search for the Arrow and starts to become a vigilante himself. Roy starts to hang out with Sin who can relate to Roy’s background. My favorite thing about this friendship is that Thea never becomes jealous. She ends up becoming friends with Sin and they become a cool trio. It’s too bad that we didn’t get to see a lot of screen time with them together. As Thea worked with Sin and Roy we saw Thea’s detective skills shine. I hope this attribute can be included into more of Thea’s story lines in the future.

Thea is once again pushed away from a loved one when Roy learns about Oliver’s secret identity and becomes his sidekick. This makes Thea alone once more. The next game changer in Thea’s life is when she is kidnapped by Deathstroke. Deathstroke reveals to Thea that Malcolm is her father. She learns that her biological father is psychopath, but what Thea thinks is worse is that Oliver knew and never told her. This says a lot about Thea. Her first reaction is not “my father is a killer”, but instead “my brother knew and never told me”. She expected lies from her mother because Moira lied about the Undertaking, but she always trusted Oliver even if he tried to be distant. This broke Thea and was the beginning of her new transformation.

Thea has been lied to throughout the whole series, but in the end Thea normally forgives the loved one that lied to her. That ends in “Seeing Red” because Thea never had time to forgive Moira. Oliver, Moira, and Thea are on their way home from Moira’s campaign. Thea confronts her family about the lies and the limo is pulled over by Deathstroke. Deathstroke forces Oliver to make a choice kill Moira or Thea. Deathstroke ultimately kills Moira. Thea watches her mother die and she doesn’t know what this man has against her family, but she still is forced to watch her mother die in front of her very eyes. Thea had no strength to protect her family all she could do is watch.

Thea was done with the lies and she wanted to get out of Starling City, but she doesn’t get too far because Deathstroke’s minions attack her at the train station. The only person there to save her is Malcolm Merlyn. At first she doesn’t want anything to do with her father. She hates this man because he was involved in one of the many lies her family told her. He’s a killer! How could she trust him, but how could she not? He was offering a helping hand. This is the first time anyone asked Thea to be part of something. Malcolm promised to train her and make her stronger. Thea was still mourning her mother and thinking about how helpless she was that night. Her mother’s death changed her because when Thea had the chance to shoot Malcolm she did. Would season 1 Thea shoot Malcolm? Probably not. She was done with the lies and Malcolm represented many lies, but this also proved how similar she was to her father.

One more lie from Roy officially leads her into the hands of Malcolm Merlyn. She drives off with Malcolm writing one last letter to Roy. She tells him “Roy I am sorry I made a mistake I thought I could still be with you. I thought I could still be Thea Queen, but Thea Queen was trusting and I don’t trust you or anyone not anymore. Thea Queen was also weak and no matter what it takes I will be strong. Don’t try to find me, you won’t. Even I don’t know where I am going. I only know one thing I am never coming back.”

That truly was the last scene we saw Thea Queen because in season 3 Thea Queen became Thea Merlyn. She went to Corto Maltese to train with her father. We didn’t get to see a lot of Thea’s training, but we know Merlyn trained Thea mentally and physically. It seems that Malcolm taught Thea a lot of diverse fighting skills. She learned hand to hand combat, archery, and she seems most confident with her sword. Her sword sparring with her father and his minions is probably one of the most significant scenes for Thea to date.

Thea found herself at her weakest during her mother’s death. She watched her mother die and she couldn’t do anything to fight back. During her training with her father she learns the most about the weapon that killed her mother. I think that is pretty significant to Thea’s character.

During Thea’s time in Corto Maltese she grows a connection with her father. She starts to trust him because he is the only one in years who gives the attention she needed. She felt wanted, strong, and on top of the world. She starts to call Malcolm her “father”.

Thea returns to Starling City and this time she is the one keeping secrets. Secretly training with her father and Oliver notices these subtle differences. In a way Thea became a fusion of both Oliver and Malcolm.

In the latest episode “The Climb” Oliver learns that Thea has been training with Malcolm and has been lying to him. The Arrow team thinks that Thea killed Sara, but Oliver does not want to believe that his little sister “Speedy” would do such a thing. Is it guilt? In Oliver’s subconscious does he believe that Thea has become this cold blooded killer because he didn’t tell her the truth. In a way she did become a killer because Oliver pushed her away. A series of events made her grow closer to Malcolm.

Malcolm shows Oliver that Thea did kill Sara. Malcolm drugged Thea and she commits her first murder. At this moment Oliver finally knows what he’s fighting for, Thea. Oliver sacrifices his life to save his sister from the League of Assassins. The big problem about this is that Thea is still in the dark. Oliver didn’t tell her that he’s the Arrow and the person she trusts the most (Malcolm) manipulated her to do his bidding. Thea may be physically stronger, but mentally she is being lied to more than she ever had been in the past.

Thea has gone through many struggles and this season is Thea’s island. She knows how to fight, now she is going to have to learn who to trust. The writers have been keeping a tight lip on the details for Season 3B. My hope for Thea for the next half of the season is that she learns Malcolm’s motives quickly. She’ll be conflicted, but even though Thea’s character has developed she still hates lies.

We know that Thea and Felicity will have a lot more scenes together in the next half of the season. I think Felicity will tell Thea the truth about Oliver death and his secret identity as the Arrow. Thea will finally have someone to trust. All the answers she’d been looking for comes from the most unlikely person. Hopefully this will help build a very fun friendship between Felicity and Thea. The sooner Thea joins Team Arrow the better.

When Oliver returns Thea may finally be ready to start a stronger relationship with her brother, but we don’t know if the same Oliver Queen who left will be the one who returns. Nothing is ever that easy on Arrow. 

Tell me your thoughts about Thea’s character in the comments below. If you want more Arrow deconstruction articles let me know.

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